Linda M Lawson Margaret G Newkirk Gregory R Dunn Sandra L Haitz Wesley A Cooper Everette F Donell Lady Broncos move to SW District Div. II finals Lady Rockets top Cincy Christian 22-1 to earn berth in district finals Lady Warriors head to SE District Div. III finals with win over Gallia SW District Track and Field Tourney action gets underway Russell E Conn Robert T Fisher Philip L Paeltz David Beals Gregory A Smith II William G Mullinnix Patricia Ogden Brittany Stykes remembered by friends and family 2018 county budget could be cut by up to ten percent Georgetown Police Chief updates council Over 40 vendors, crafters at 2017 Annual Craft Show Cropper’s time as GHS girls basketball coach expected to end after 21 years at the helm Barnes’ perfect game and big hits lead Lady Broncos to round one sectional win Broncos advance in sectional play with win over Mt. Healthy Kenny B Williams Stephen E Marcum Christopher J Lovett Brandon M Traylor Gaslight renovations set to begin Ripley students view mock crash at school ‘Angela’s Curbside Cuisine’ taking area by storm Fisher sentenced to 17 years for child porn possession Fundraiser for Russellville 200th Celebration May 6 Warriors claim SHAC Div. I title in ‘run rule’ fashion Vilvens’ grand slam caps off Lady Rockets’ win over G’town Rockets lead SHAC Div. II at 9-4 WBHS dedicates new softball press box Rodney E Berry Charles D Rice Jr Erma D Painter Alma Cordes Ronald D Latham Some Georgetown School staff members will be armed this fall Local Democrats host Jerry Springer at dinner Chamber of Commerce discusses development Gerald P Morel Lady Broncos capture softball program’s 5th straight SBAAC American Division title Warriors on top in SHAC Division I standings Lady Broncos take first in Western Brown Track Invite Rockets leading way in SHAC Div. II James E Newman Paul E Funk Alan Hanselman Robert V Nash III Frances L Poole Minnie E Fisher Donovan M Pope Irvin E Stiens Myrtle L Lane Ralph L Davidson August J Pace Carl R Brown Phyllis J Beard Lady G-Men complete sweep of Tigers in SBAAC Nat’l Division G-Men pluck Cardinals, 6-4 Warriors climb to 4-1 in SHAC with victory over North Adams Broncos rally in 7th for 5-4 win over Batavia Blue Jays still in search of first win Three million dollar jail expansion planned Higginsport enforcing speed with camera Unemployment rate falls in county, southern Ohio Varnau not restricted from talking online about Goldson case Rockets fall to 4-1 in SHAC with loss to North Adams Bronco tennis team tops Bethel-Tate, 5-0 Lady G-Men rise to 7-4 with win at Goshen Lady Broncos’ big bats hammer out 11-0 win over Batavia G-Men showing improvement Keith Shouse Diane L Steele August Hensley Louise R Murrell Fire strikes Mt. Orab Bible Baptist Church Grant Days 2017 attractions Man accused of sex crime, giving pot to kids Ten indicted by Brown County Grand Jury 5th Annual Rick Eagan Memorial 5K Run/Walk coming up in May Birds of Prey Three sentenced in common pleas court John H Young II Sally A Gibson Barbara Burris Mary Ann Napier Martha L Newland Marlene Thompson Patricia A Firrell Kellie J Berry Mt. Orab, Hamersville students take part in ‘Hoops for Heart’ Eastern players take part in District 14 All-Star Games DeWine meets with local officials Eastern Superintendent praises students accomplishments during board meeting

Bengals lost much more than just a game

This is not what I wanted this column to be about.

I was hoping that I’d be able to reminisce this week about Ken Griffey Jr. and his impact on my love for baseball. Griffey Jr. was elected to the Hall of Fame Wednesday, Jan. 6 and I figured regardless of the outcome of the Bengals’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers I would be able to write about The Kid.

The rationale behind that was simple: if the Bengals won, great. There would be another game next week to write about. If they lost, well, it’s not like they’d be any less in the playoffs next week.

Then the teams went out and actually played the game.

Before the first snap, I made it known that all I wanted was the team to have a good showing. I knew A.J. McCarron had played well, considering the circumstances, but I still did not expect him to perform well against the Steelers defense. Call me whatever you want, but I didn’t expect them to win this game, so the fact that they lost 18-16 doesn’t really faze me.

What does anger me is how the game was lost.

Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones each got called for personal foul penalties with the Steelers driving late in the game. Burfict’s penalty was the worst of the two, as it came on a hit over the middle on a defenseless receiver.

It doesn’t matter how you feel the referees handled the game. If you think they were out to get the Bengals or not, the entire point is the way the fans and players conducted themselves on the field and in the stands is an embarrassment to the city.

I know that we may not necessarily call ourselves Cincinnatians given how far we are away from the metropolitan area, but those of us that do call ourselves Bengals fans need to be embarrassed regardless of our zip code.

There were reports of Steelers players celebrating while Bengals’ running back Giovani Bernard lay on the ground injured. Fans weren’t thrilled, and rightfully so. When players are hurt, regardless of the jersey, it’s important to remember that they’re just people. The players celebrating while the scene unfolded was classless and drew ire from Bengals fans.

Yet later in the same game, as Ben Roethlisberger left the field on a cart, Bengals fans at the stadium took it to an entirely different level, and threw bottles and cans at him as he left.

You cannot cry foul when players celebrate injuries and then throw bottles at injured players. Jokes about Sam Wyche’s “You don’t live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati” comment ran rampant at that point, but I don’t recall Cleveland throwing things at injured players.

The tossing of garbage initially began as a way of showing displeasure with the referees. Was the hit that injured Benard vicious? Yes. Was it a foul? I have no idea. The rules for hits in the NFL are about as convoluted as the rules for making a catch, and both of those rank right up there with assembling things from Ikea in terms of confusion.

Regardless, it doesn’t give the group of fans who took it upon themselves to hurl things at Roethlisberger the right to react they way they did. Boos are just as effective at getting your point across, and they have the added benefit of no potential to injure an innocent bystander, unlike the risk that comes with a beer can launched from the stands. Throwing things doesn’t solve anything, it just makes you look like a two-year old who isn’t getting their way.

Even though it was only a select group of fans, by no means the majority, it makes the city look bad. Any good will gained from the All-Star Game last July very well could have been lost, as now when national media sees “Cincinnati,” they don’t think about Todd Fraizer’s walk-off home run in the Home Run Derby. They think about Saturday night.

To be fair, the Steelers did plenty of things wrong themselves. Mike Munchak pulled Reggie Nelson’s hair. I’m still not sure why Joey Porter was on the field after Brown’s injury, but even still, there’s no reason the Bengals’ players needed to take the bait. I noticed holding calls and hands to the face by offensive lineman that consistently went uncalled, but you can find those in pretty much every game if you look hard enough.

None of those things will be remembered though. Nor will McCarron’s gutsy rally of the team or Burfict’s diving interception that sealed a victory for about 25 seconds. Even Jeremy Hill’s fumble is mostly forgotten, except by Hill himself, who takes the blame for the loss. He can’t shoulder that burden alone, because while that fumble put the defense on the field, he can’t control what they do when they’re out there. At some point, players need to follow in Hill’s footsteps and take responsibility for their actions.

The fact that Marvin Lewis was unable to control his team when it mattered the most led some people to call for him to be fired. Yes, the coach’s job is to keep his team in line. But short of benching Burfict and Jones, what would you have wanted Lewis to do? Had he pulled them from the game and the Steelers marched down the field and scored, which they very well could have done even without the 30 yards in penalties, he would be chastised for not having his two best defenders on the field when the game was on the line. There’s only so much he can do. The players have to be able to control themselves.

This is going to be an interesting offseason for the Bengals. It’s a shame it started much sooner than it should have. The team will have to contend with a ton of free-agents, including Jones, and there’s no guarantee the squad that takes the field later this year will look anything like the one last weekend. Both coordinators are candidates for coaching jobs with other teams, so even if Lewis does return the coaching staff underneath him will have a different look.

At any rate, the Bengals now sit at 0-7 in the playoffs under Lewis. People still ask the football gods what we did to anger them so. I may not have an explanation for the first six losses, but given the behavior of some fans and players during the seventh, we may have got what we deserved.

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By Garth Shanklin

gshanklin@civitasmedia.com

Reach Garth Shanklin at 937-378-6161 or follow him on Twitter at @GNDShanklin.

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2016 News Democrat